Many executive level nursing home employees are seeing higher paychecks than in years past. According to the 40th annual Nursing Home Salary & Benefits Report, nursing home administrator salaries went up nearly 3% between 2016 to 2017. According to salary.com, the average nursing home administrator salary in Chicago is $116,515, more than the study’s reported national average of $97,401. Nursing home executive directors and directors of nursing are also faring well. Executive director average salaries went up 2.46%, from $127,262 in 2016 to $130,389 in 2017, while directors of nursing saw a 2.64% jump (from $89,092 to $91,444 in 2017).
Executives Thriving While CNAs Barely Getting By
The survey only serves to highlight the disparity in pay between executive level employees and those who actually engage in day-to-day care of elderly nursing home residents. A 2016 study reported that 1/3 of CNAs are receiving public assistance, with close to half of them living far below the poverty level. When the American Health Care Association was asked to respond, they blamed the high number of nursing home residents on Medicaid and the program’s notoriously low reimbursement rate. However, not being able to pay CNAs a living wage due to Medicaid reimbursement rates has obviously not affected facilities’ ability to pay top level executives.
It’s a vicious cycle. Underpaying CNAs for nursing home work while also understaffing facilities leads to
a high turnover rate, estimated by the National Institutes of Health to be 42.6%. Other factors besides pay are involved in CNA turnover, including management’s attitude towards the role and their commitment to training CNAs, offering initial and continuing education. In addition to a high turnover rate, underpaid and under-appreciated CNAs also are prone to burnout, which can lead to nursing home abuse and neglect.
It’s certainly not a situation unique to CNAs in nursing homes. Employees in any profession that are valued by management, appropriately compensated for the work they do, and given opportunities for ongoing education and advancement tend to do better work, are loyal to the company, and engage in practices that make the workplace better and safer. Shouldn’t rising pay for nursing home executives also mean higher pay for CNAs? Unfortunately that’s just not the case.